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Lecture 9

Lecture 9 - Judaism in Rome

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University of Toronto St. George

CLA310 - Religion in the Roman World Wednesday Nov 14, 2012 Lecture 9 - Judaism in Rome Questions • What are the main characteristics of ancient Jewish religious practices? Not entirely uniform - some groups will disagree with one another • • How did Jewish religion differ from polytheistic religious practices in the Roman Empire? • What was the relationship between Jews and the Roman Empire? • Passes under the control of Roman Empire How does this affect their religion? • • Why would Judaism be perceived as superstitio? • What is the problem with the term ‘Jew’? • Modern scholarship calls them ‘Judean’s' - making an emphasis to link these people who are ethnically and socially similar with the land • She (the lecturer) will just call them Jews, or Hebrews Key Events in Jewish History • God’s covenant with Abraham (2nd millennium BC?) • Oral history from Torah - came together much later when in exile under a foreign power • Abraham had agreement with a single god who defined himself as One God • This agreement was that this elderly man would have a son, and through this son, many children • Abraham and his wife (who was also old) had no children He has a son with his wife and it is miraculous • • Human power is weaker than divine power • Moses leads Exodus from Egypt (1600-1300 BC?) • Oral, later written Famine and so they had to go to Egypt • • They flourished there, Egyptians scared by their power and enslaved them • Had to kill first born sons • Moses saved and adopted by the daughter of the Pharaoh and becomes an important mem- ber of Egyptian community • He later leads his people out of Egypt • He is the mouth of God - God speaks to him, and through him • God sends plagues and eventually the pharaoh lets them go (Let my people go!) • Founding of Israel, ruled by judges, then kings (1350-586 BC) • Alot of archaeological evidence (finally) • Moses leads his people out of Egypt • Canaan, in the bible • The Israelites do not listen tot he commands of God and rebel, and thus punished - those who were born in Egypt will not make it to Canaan • Take over Canaan by force • Biblical narrative - the people of Canaan had sinned and should’ve known better • Judge can have military connotation • Eventually the Israelits keep slipping back into the worship of other deities CLA310 - Religion in the Roman World Wednesday Nov 14, 2012 Lecture 9 - Judaism in Rome • But the descendants need to only worship one god in order to be a great nation, otherwise they leave themselves open to being conquered • The time of the judges comes to end, the jews loseArc of the Covenant which forms a cen- tre of Jewish worship • It is later recovered • God says to them that because you’ve being disobedient you’re going to have a king; they may not always lead you into victory and treat you well, and it wasn’t my original plan but you obviously need one Kings initially very powerful • • Under third king Solomon a great temple is built where theArc is kept • Jews recognize that the majority of their kings didn’t do the best job, and their willingness to admit this is very un-roman • Divided kingdom: Israel in North, Judah in South • After Solomon • Divided into 12 tribes of people, and they go one way or the other • They wind up disagreeing on where they should practice religion • Temple of Solomon in Jerusalem, but north in Israel don’t have the same access, causing their religion to be a bit different • Assyrians conquer Israel (721 BC), Babylonians conquer Assyria, then Judah (586 BC) • The jews are killed and scattered • Babylon becomes main power in that part of the world Jewish nobles taken into captivity in Babylon • • Babylonians destroy their temple • In that period of exile the sacred text was brought together • Persians conquer Babylon (538 BC);Alexander the Great conquers persia, Seleucids rule Judea Allowed to rebuild their temple • • Pompey conquers Mithridates VI of Pontus (63 BC), Judea under Roman rule (governed by kings loyal to Rome) • Romans install kings of some sot of Jewish descent to rule but also have close relationship with Roman gov’t Jews don’t believe that being conquered diminishes their god, but that they are punished • • Romans ask them to put statutes of the Roman gods in their temples • This obviously doesn’t sit very well • Romans finally allow them their practices, so long as they pay taxes and don’t revolt 1st Jewish Revolt (66-73AD), Kitos Revolt (115-7AD), Bar Kochba Revolt (132-5AD) • • 66 AD - revolt that leads to the destruction of the temple • 115AD - minor • 132 AD - winds up with the destruction of Judea as a province (it is renamed, along with Jerusalem). We can trace the end of a distinct nation to this point Religious Performance in Judaism • Temple is the only place where they worship their god • Jewish temple very different from Graeco-Roman temple • Very segregated CLA310 - Religion in the Roman World Wednesday Nov 14, 2012 Lecture 9 - Judaism in Rome • Are you pure enough to go in? What is open and allowed to you? • Ritual purity still a concept in Graeco-Roman religion In Roman temples the ground on which the temple is build and the building is sacer and is • the property of the god. You can go in there so long as you’re pure. • But the Jewish conception of holy closer to that of sanctus (which is more often applied to persons) • This is because God is believed to be present there in a very special way, and he is ‘sanctus’ and it is too holy, too much for human beings to bear • Gods power is beyond human conception and would destroy you if you took it too lightly • Romans really didn’t have same concept • Solomn’s temple dimensions outlined in Kings • Temple built by divine order • Completely burnt sacrifices, any meat left over only for priests as it is part of their livelihood • No human/anthropomorphic faces - they are not to worship an image of God, only as a spirit • Human beings cannot see god, if you saw him it would be too much (like Zeus and Semele) Arc of the Covenant • Tablets of Ten Commandments inside it • In Graeco-Roman world you never get a text spoken from mouth of Zeus on how to behave • Bread called Mana which god had given them when they were starving in the desert • Staff of Aaron Sacred Texts • Texts codified during Babylonian captivity • Texts in Synagogues - not the same thing as temple • From greek word for ‘coming together’
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